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Ban on finance-related cold calls set in motion

Paloma Kubiak
Written By:
Paloma Kubiak

The Government is looking to ban cold calls offering sham financial products in a bid to crack down on the annual multi-billion-pound fraud which shatters lives and “holds back growth”.

Cold calls relating to pensions are already banned but the Government is looking to extend this protection to any financial product to clamp down on fraud which costs society £6.8bn a year.

Once in force, this means anyone receiving a call out of the blue offering products such as crypto currency schemes or insurance will know that it is a scam.

The Government said developments in modern technology have “opened up new ways for criminals to inflict harm” where they often pretend to be a loved one or a legitimate business to scam people out of their money.

Recent examples include scam Royal Mail texts which get the recipient to rearrange a ‘delivery’, or messages from ‘banks’ which scare people into transferring their money.

As part of the Government crackdown, it proposes to ban ‘SIM farms’ – electronic boxes made up of bundles of SIM cards – to stop them being used by scammers to send fraudulent messages rapidly and simultaneously to thousands of people.

According to telecoms regulator Ofcom, 41 million people were targeted by suspicious calls and texts this summer alone.

Meanwhile, investment fraud is the fastest growing fraud category according to UK Finance, which reported 12,000 cases last year with a total loss of more than £170m.

‘Stopping scams at source’

Prime Minister, Rishi Sunak, said: “Scammers devastate lives and livelihoods – preying on people’s fears to cheat them out of their money.

“To clamp down on these crimes, we have to prevent fraudsters from infiltrating their way into people’s lives in the first place.

“That’s why we’re stopping scams at source by taking away the routes used to target victims, keeping people safe and shielding them from the criminals responsible.”

The proposals form part of the Government’s Fraud Strategy to be launched by the Prime Minister and Home Secretary this week.

It will set out plans to “step up” its approach to protecting victims in response to the growing number of ways fraudsters are targeting victims as a result of new technologies.

Home Secretary, Suella Braverman, said: “Fraudsters are the lowest of the low. They seek to rob people of their hard-earned money through deception and exploitation, and relentlessly search for new ways to trick people.

“Banning cold calls and stopping fraudsters using technology is the start in our fightback against these cowards who hide in the shadows.”